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States, UTs asked not to lower guard, take calibrated measures while easing out restrictions

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19

With states and Union Territories having started easing out restrictions amid declining number of Covid cases in the country, the Centre has cautioned them not to lower their guard and ensure that the whole process is carefully calibrated.

Keeping in view the visuals of marketplaces on social media where people are seen crowding without wearing masks and not following other Covid-appropriate behaviour, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written a letter to chief secretaries of the states and administrators of UTs asking them to “sensitise the local administration at district level and other lower administrative units” about the need to keep a close watch on the trend of Covid cases.

“With the decline in the number of active cases, many states and UTs have started relaxing restrictions. I would like to highlight that the decision to impose or ease the restrictions has to be taken, based on the assessment of the situation at ground level. While the opening-up of activities, after decline in cases, is essential, the states and UTs must ensure that the whole process is carefully calibrated,” the letter read.

To contain the spread of infection on a sustainable basis, Bhalla said, it was necessary “to continue the strategy of test-track-treat” and “to ensure that the testing rate does not come down”.

“As the situation is dynamic, a close watch needs to be kept on early signs of a surge in active cases or high positivity rates. A system should be in place at the micro level to ensure that whenever cases rise in a smaller place, it gets checked at that level itself, through local containment measures as per the existing guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the letter read.

Prescribing a five-fold strategy of Covid-appropriate behaviour, test-track-treat and vaccination, Bhalla said, “Easing of restrictions in some states has led to resumption of crowding of people in markets, without adherence to the norms. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that complacency does not set in, and there is no let-up in adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour, while opening up activities.”

Noting that vaccination against Covid in the present scenario is critical to breaking the chain of transmission, he said, “Therefore, all state/UT governments should step up the pace of vaccination to cover the maximum number of people in an expeditious manner.”

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